World Coins

Harold II penny with historic date tops Noonans sale

A silver penny minted at Hastings in 1066 and issued under King Harold II, who died at the Battle of Hastings that year, realized £24,800 ($28,780) including a 24% buyer’s fee, in Noonans’ Sept. 19 auction.

Images courtesy of Noonans.

An extremely rare Harold II silver penny from 1066 realized £24,800 ($28,780 U.S.), including a 24% buyer’s fee, during a Noonans auction on Sept. 19.

The coin, which was struck in Hastings, more than doubled it pre-sale estimate of £6,000 to £8,000 ($7,330 to $9,774 U.S.)

The auction firm graded the coin Extremely Fine and noted that it has toning.

“This coin was sold by an overseas private collector and bought by a private collector in the UK,” according to Tim Wilkes, head of the coin department at Noonans.

Wilkes said: “There were four reasons why this coin sold so well, including its rarity — although coins of Harold II are reasonably common, Hastings is a very rare mint for his reign — and obviously there is the historical association of Harold II with Hastings.”

The condition and the quality of the king’s portrait as well as the provenance, which goes back as far as 1885, and the fact it was once in the famed Hyman Montagu Collection, are the other reasons the coin did so well, according to Wilkes.

Historical background

The Battle of Hastings was fought on Oct. 14, 1066, between the Norman-French army of William, the Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson (also known as Harold II), beginning the Norman Conquest of England. The king died during that battle.

According to the auction catalog, “The vision of a heroic defender of England, fighting to repel foreign invaders, is endearingly romantic. The reality — as always — was a little more complex.”

According to the auction house, not since the R. Henry Norweb and Emery May Norweb sale in 1986 has a penny of Harold Godwinson struck at Hastings been offered for sale on the open market.

For full sales results, visit the firm’s website,

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